New children's book highlights NC's African-American history

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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new children's book is paying homage to North Carolina's rich African-American history.

The book by Michelle Lanier is called "My NC from A to Z." From the top of the alphabet to the bottom, it shines a light on the important people and significant places that have helped shaped our thriving state.

"I feel like it's definitely something that's larger than me,' said Lanier. "This book is for all children, of all ethnic backgrounds. It's for children of all ages from 1 to 100."

Lanier made history herself when she became the first African-American director of North Carolina's 25 state-owned historic sites.

She wrote the book hoping it would not only recognize trailblazers before her, but also empower and provide a sense of identity during formative years.

"We're enticing the children to say 'Who is Pauli Murray?" Lanier said.

Under each letter of the book, you will not find a description, Lanier says "My NC from A to Z" is meant to spark conversation and encourage adults to share history.

It highlights places like Black Wall Street in Durham, North Carolina's 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and pays homage to prominent historical figures with ties to the Tar Heel State.

"Nina Simone was an extraordinary musician," said Lanier.

Others who aren't as well-known.

"Her name was Margaret Kennedy Goodwin. She was raised right here in Durham and apart of a Black Wall Street family," explained Lanier. "She was the first African-American x-ray technician."

Each snapshot in time is accompanied by a bright, beautiful painted picture. The images show celebration and accomplishment, but also the pain and sorrow endured.

"The Longleaf Pine (picture) is really about the difficulty of what it was to be a person who was enslaved and there are things you are forced to do that you don't have control over," Illustrator Dare Coulter. "To be able to use all of the knowledge that I have, all my paints, to give beauty to depictions was really cool for me."

The book was jointly published by the North Carolina African-American Heritage Commission and the State Office of Archives and History.

A copy to every public library in the state so to inspire children this Black History Month.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

There is supplementary guide that provides resources related to topics explored in the book.

Lanier will be holding a Black History Month Read-In on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Pure Life Theatre at 801 Hillsborough Street, Suite 113, Raleigh, NC 27607.
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